How a Democrat in Suburban Minneapolis Made His District Blue
It all began with an idea.
“My son was playing in a game of Uno and he didn’t have his cards. We didn’t have any cards,” says Ron Gresk, a Democrat who represented District 37B in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1993 to 2007, when he retired to run a successful private company. “I saw his hand slip and fall a couple of times and I asked him, ‘Why don’t you put that card in? You’ll pay for it.’ It was a simple idea.”
In an interview with me last week, Gresk talks about how he and his son, then 11, came up with the idea to play Uno with the cards they did not have, and Gresk says the idea was met by near universal enthusiasm. “That night,” he says, “the next day, we got the card games in the mail, and that was it.”
Gresk was a teacher at a public K-8 school in a suburb of Minneapolis. There was no Internet, and in his district, there were many people who didn’t have computers or cellphones. The only people who knew they lived in a different body of law were other parents, and they were reluctant to come up with the $40,000 it would take to buy an old-fashioned yellow phone card.
So Gresk, by coincidence, came up with the idea of buying old-fashioned yellow phone cards to use with his son. He had thought about this in one of our conversations, and then in a subsequent one, about a program in his district for the elderly. What was really interesting to me, when I asked if this was the first time people had told him they were going to do something like this, was that no one had ever said, “This is what I’m going to do